Sadly the number of people dying due to a heroin or morphine overdose has risen sharply this year. This means England is following the trend set in America where the number of opiate related deaths has dramatically increased over the last twenty-four months.
During 2014 a massive 952 died in England due to a heroin or morphine overdose. During 2012, only 579 people died of a heroin or morphine overdose. This means 2014 has seen the highest increase in the number of heroin and morphine deaths since 2001.
These figures were released by the Office of National Statistics
Figures reveal an increase in the number of heroin/morphine-related deaths for all age groups accept for those aged 70 and over.
In England, the mortality rate from drug addiction now lies at 40 deaths per million population.
Of all the drug misuse deaths occurring in England during 2014, 42% of them occurred as a result of morphine or heroin overdose.
Why such an increase?
Harry Shapiro, a former director of DrugScope hold Ocean Recovery: “There’s been such a focus on legal highs, new psychoactive substances, that to some extent maybe we’ve been taking our eye off the ball a bit. From a policy point of view, we might have got a bit ‘we’ve ticked all the boxes on this, we’re doing well.’ There are figures here and from the Crime Survey of England and Wales, that suggest we are not ticking all the boxes.”
This may mean those responsible for treating drug addicts are not doing enough. Since 2010 the Government has dramatically reduced available funding for heroine detox programmes.
The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse was completely disbanded in 2013. Now local authorities are charged with the administration of treatment programmes. These are the same authorities that have experiencing large scale budget cuts over the last half decade.
Also a nationwide ‘heroin drought’ has resulted in an increase in the purity of ‘street heroin’.
Over the last year heroin’s price has also come down from £75 per gram in 2012 to only £50 per gram in 2014.
England also saw an increase in the number of cocaine-related deaths during 2014. According to Office of National Statistics data, 247 people die from a cocaine overdose in 2014 compared to 169 in 2013. Traditionally the Government has demonstrated an unwillingness to invest in quality cocaine treatment programmes.
What can be done?
These figures make dull reading for the Nation’s policy-makers. Since 2010 the number of opiate-related deaths had actually declined until the recent figures were published. We hope the current figures serve as a cold wake up call for those in power. We hope the focus will shift away from legal highs and instead focus on more dangerous Class A substances such as heroin and cocaine.
Shapiro urges the Government to act. He said “The issue is really: is anyone going to do anything about it and come up with a national strategy to deal with drug-related deaths? It’s not just in relation to morphine.”
Public Health England’s director of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, Rosanna O’Connor said: “Fewer people are using heroin but the harms are increasingly concentrated among older, more vulnerable users and those not recently in touch with their local drug treatment services. Reassuringly, overall drug use has also declined and treatment services have helped many people to recover but these figures show the need for an enhanced effort.”
Posted on Saturday, September 19th, 2015 at 10:25 am in News.